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Don’t Touch That!

Picture2Every time I walk into Dillard’s I always take a deep breath through my nose.  Something about the unique mixture of Clinique and fresh merchandise releases the endorphins; it, long pause, sustains me.  As I walk through the racks I find that my hands wander upward and I run my fingers across the clothes as I pass;  I stop when I feel something that feels promising and pick it up.  Bad move.

As it turns out, if you shop by touch, your mind just might trick you into buying more.  As if the world wasn’t scary enough, even our own brains are sabotaging us.  A few months ago I read this article by Sean Gregory in Time, here are a couple of key excerpts:

Why does touching an item increase the likelihood of purchase? The motivation traces back to what behavioral economists have labeled the “endowment effect.” This phenomenon posits that consumers value a product more once they own it.

“When you touch something, you instantly feel more of a connection to it,” says Suzanne Shu, a marketing professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and co-author of the study. “That connection stirs up an emotional reaction — ‘Yeah, I like the feel of it. This can be mine.’ And that emotion can cause you to buy something you never would have bought if you hadn’t touched it.”

To prove the power of touch, the researchers placed two products, a Slinky and a coffee mug, in front of 231 undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin. About half were told they could touch the products, while the other half were prohibited from fiddling with them. Students were then asked to express their sense of ownership of the products and to indicate how much money they were willing to pay for each.  The results were clear: those who touched the items reported statistically significant higher levels of perceived ownership. They were also willing to pay more to purchase the products.

Husband and I started shopping with this idea in mind and, wouldn’t you know, it works and it’s scary.  Prime example: the other day walking around at Best Buy, Husband picks up a laptop case for $30.  Instantly, he was spouting off the radical features of said case, it was so much cooler than all the other guy’s cases, it was going to bring us closer together as a couple, it was only $30, etc.   I gave him the look that we give each other when the other person needs to get a grip, he snapped out of it, and we instantly found the same case for $10 on the iphone. 

My Shopping Rules of Thumb(s):

1. Don’t pick stuff up.

2. If you must pick it up, don’t put it in your cart.  The more I hold something around the store, the more I get bored with it and  the more I see “new” stuff that somehow seems more appealing.

3. Think about it.  Do you need it?  Could you find it cheaper somewhere else?  Is there something else you would rather save for?

4. When in doubt, wait a week. No, wait two days.  Either way, I bet you didn’t really want it (at least as much as you wanted something else). 

Photo Credit: włodi


Have any techniques that you like to use to spend less? 

Post a comment, no one’s stopping you.